October 27, 2023

Holistic Health and Functional Medicine

by Petra Brunnbauer

Holistic Health as an Avenue to Support Functional Medicine

In today's fast-paced world, the quest for quick fixes often leaves us in a cycle of treating symptoms without addressing underlying causes. This approach may offer immediate relief but rarely provides lasting solutions, creating gaps in our path to long-term wellbeing. The healthcare system, for the most part, tends to lean toward this symptom-centric model, but that's only one part of the story.

When we integrate the principles of holistic health with the diagnostic precision of functional medicine, we open the doors to a more comprehensive approach to healthcare. Holistic health emphasizes the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit, while functional medicine dives deep into the root causes of ailments through advanced diagnostics. Together, these approaches create a dynamic framework for healthcare, allowing for personalized, effective treatments that cater to an individual's unique needs.

This dual approach offers a path to more than just symptom relief; it sets the stage for achieving optimal wellbeing. Combining the breadth of holistic health with the depth of functional medicine means not just treating what ails us, but understanding why it does, to begin with. This approach provides a sustainable strategy for a balanced and vibrant life, setting us on a course towards not just better health, but a better quality of life overall.

“Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy, and spirit you possess or takes away from it.” 

                                          - Ann Wigmore

A Pioneer in Integrated Health 

Nicole Ritter is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. With over 6 years of experience, Nicole specializes in helping women and children uncover the root causes of their health challenges. She employs a multi-disciplinary approach that combines the analytical rigor of functional medicine with the expansive vision of holistic health.

What is Holistic Health and Why Should You Consider It?

Holistic health could be considered an approach to life. Unlike conventional medicine that isolates parts of the body, holistic health views the body, mind, and spirit as interconnected. The objective is not just to treat symptoms but to enhance overall wellbeing.

How to Practice Holistic Health

Embracing holistic health is simpler than you might think. It involves mindful living, active participation in your healthcare, and an ongoing commitment to growth and balance. Activities such as yoga, meditation, or even a leisurely walk in the park can contribute to a more holistic lifestyle.

Why Consider Holistic Health?

If you're stuck in a healthcare cycle that feels one-dimensional or has failed to provide answers for challenges you are experiencing, consider looking into holistic health practices. This comprehensive approach considers all aspects of your life, promoting optimal wellbeing through personalized, person-centered care.

Holistic Health

How Holistic Health Complements Functional Medicine

Functional medicine and holistic health might seem like two distinct domains at first glance, but they are actually complementary facets of a complete, integrative healthcare approach. Functional medicine specializes in identifying the root causes of illnesses through detailed diagnostics, often relying on advanced tests to probe deep into our physiological state. But knowing the 'what' is only half the battle. Understanding the 'why' - why certain conditions develop, why symptoms persist - requires a more comprehensive look. This is where holistic health shines. With its broader scope, holistic health considers us in our totality - body, mind, and spirit - to provide a contextual landscape where functional medicine can operate more effectively.

Holistic health practices encompass a wide range of lifestyle adjustments and therapies including stress management techniques, such as meditation and mindfulness, as well as nutritional guidance and physical activity. When we integrate these holistic principles into functional medicine, the treatment becomes more dynamic. For example, a functional medicine diagnosis may identify a hormonal imbalance, but holistic practices can uncover that chronic stress or poor nutrition is exacerbating this imbalance. By addressing these lifestyle factors in conjunction with medical treatment, we can achieve a deeper, more lasting resolution to our health issues.

The Synergy of Holistic Health Approaches

In essence, the synergy between functional medicine and holistic health creates a healthcare model that is greater than the sum of its parts. This blended approach leverages the strengths of both disciplines, creating a robust, individualized healthcare journey that addresses not just the symptoms but the underlying factors affecting our wellbeing. Through the integration of these two approaches, we can understand and adapt in addition to diagnosing and treating, setting ourselves on a path to more sustained and holistic wellbeing.

The Transformative Power of Holistic Health Practices 

If we consider holistic health as a lifestyle, it becomes clear that it has the potential to fundamentally transform our wellbeing. By adopting holistic practices into our daily routines, we are not merely masking symptoms or finding temporary relief. We are engaging in a comprehensive health strategy that supports and amplifies the benefits of functional medicine. By taking an all-encompassing view that considers emotional, physical, and mental states, holistic health sets the stage for lasting wellness.

Mindful Eating and Nutritional Awareness

One of the most impactful holistic practices is mindful eating, which shifts our relationship with food from one of convenience or emotional comfort to one of nourishment and purpose. Mindful eating involves savoring each bite, being aware of portion sizes, and choosing foods that are both enjoyable and nourishing. This helps with weight management but also in tuning into the body’s nutritional needs. When you're more in tune with what your body requires, functional medicine treatments targeting dietary deficiencies or imbalances become significantly more effective.

Stress Management Through Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

High stress levels can be a barrier to effective treatment in functional medicine. Chronic stress can affect everything from hormone levels to gut health, thereby complicating any targeted treatment plans. Incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or even simple mindfulness practices can significantly reduce stress levels. Reduced stress leads to a more balanced internal state, making it easier for functional medicine protocols to do their job.

Mindfulness & Relaxation | Holistic Health

Physical Activity and its Role in Holistic Health 

Physical activity is often overlooked when discussing holistic health, yet its benefits are manifold. Regular exercise can boost mental health, improve sleep quality, and enhance physical resilience - all of which are foundational to holistic wellbeing. Importantly, exercise also helps improve metabolic processes and hormonal balance, two aspects often addressed in functional medicine. By including a regular physical routine, we make it easier for our bodies to respond positively to functional medicine treatments.

Emotional Wellbeing and its Connection to Physical Health

Emotional health is a cornerstone in the holistic health model. Emotions play a critical role in our physical health; for instance, chronic anxiety can manifest as digestive issues, while suppressed anger can lead to high blood pressure. Addressing emotional wellbeing through practices like emotional freedom techniques (EFT) or talk therapy can remove emotional blockages, paving the way for more effective functional medicine treatments.

In the big picture of healthcare, when holistic health practices are integrated into a functional medicine framework, we experience a synergistic effect that promotes optimal wellbeing. For us as our own health advocate, it can make each treatment more effective and each health goal more attainable.

Practical Steps for Taking Control of Wellbeing

Managing our wellbeing isn't a passive process. It demands consistent, active engagement, and commitment. Whether we are exploring functional medicine or integrating holistic health into our routines, it's crucial to own our journey.

Establish a Morning Routine

Having a structured morning can set the tone for the entire day. Include elements like deep breathing, a nutritious breakfast, and a quick exercise session. This not only jump starts the metabolism but also creates a positive mindset, enabling us to make healthier choices throughout the day.

Importance of a Sleep Sanctuary in Holistic Health

Set Up a Sleep Sanctuary

Quality sleep is a pillar of good health that's often neglected. Make your bedroom a sleep-friendly zone - no gadgets, dim lights, and perhaps some calming aromas like lavender. Good sleep helps in cellular repair, improves cognitive function, and enhances mood, thereby supporting the effectiveness of any functional medicine protocols.

Tap into the Power of Herbs and Supplements

While it's best to consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice, incorporating certain herbs and supplements can offer additional health benefits. For example, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, and fish oil supplements can support heart health. These natural additives can bolster functional medicine treatments by targeting various health aspects holistically.

Foster Emotional Intelligence

Understanding and managing our emotions can have a profound impact on our wellbeing. Emotional intelligence skills, like active listening and empathy, can improve relationships, lower stress levels, and contribute to a more balanced emotional state, making it easier for functional medicine to be effective.

Be Curious and Open-Minded

Health and wellness information is continually evolving. Subscribe to reputable health journals, follow leading experts in the field, and consider joining community health programs. A curious and open mind enables us to adapt, making room for new practices that can enhance wellbeing and complement functional medicine treatments.

The Importance of Being Open Minded with Holistic Health

Taking charge of our wellbeing is an evolving process that invites us to be the chief stakeholder. By incorporating these everyday life steps, we prepare the ground for functional medicine to work more effectively, ensuring that our journey to optimal health is not just a destination but a fulfilling, lifelong process.


The integration of holistic health and functional medicine heralds a new era in healthcare - one that elevates the patient experience from mere symptom management to a state of vibrant, sustained wellbeing. This isn't just a lofty goal but a feasible reality. By emphasizing both the physical and non-physical aspects of health, from genetics to emotional wellbeing to lifestyle choices, we're paving a new pathway to a more integrated, comprehensive model of healthcare.

Secondly, this approach doesn't undermine the importance of conventional healthcare; instead, it enriches it. It transforms healthcare from a transactional relationship between patient and doctor to an ongoing, synergistic partnership aimed at achieving long-lasting wellbeing with person-centered health care.

Finally, the collective power of holistic health and functional medicine creates a healthcare model that is as personalized as it is thorough. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all treatment plans and quick fixes. Welcome to an era of healthcare that’s not just about living longer, but also about living better - achieving a state of wellbeing that's as deeply fulfilling as it is enduring.

Holistic Health

We can all be part of this grassroots movement that is changing the healthcare landscape one individual at a time.



functional medicine, holistic healing, holistic health, wellbeing

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